Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Islamabad Market Bombing Kills 22; Afghan Candidates Edge Towards Victory Claims

Topline

  • At least 22 people were killed in a bombing at an Islamabad wholesale market on Wednesday; the TTP denied involvement and condemned the attack. Both Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani suggest that they won the Afghan presidential elections outright, based on preliminary counts of posted polling results; the Independent Election Commission has warned the candidates and the press not to prematurely post results as counting continues. Pakistan reentered the global bond market for the first time since 2007 this week, with $2 billion in bonds issued at between 7.25-8.25% interest.


Pakistan — Security

  • Islamabad Market Bombing: At least 22 people were killed and more than 50 injured when a bomb was remotely detonated at an Islamabad-Rawalpindi area vegetable wholesale market on Wednesday morning. The Pakistani Taliban denied involvement, condemning the incident and saying that it was continuing to observe a ceasefire with the government. That ceasefire is set to expire on Thursday; earlier on Tuesday, the TTP’s main spokesman accused the government of failing to meet militant demands and of continuing operations against its members. [AP] [Reuters] [BBC] [AJE] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Protection of Pakistan Ordinance Challenged: At least one legal challenge against the new Protection of Pakistan Ordinance legislation has already been filed at the Supreme Court, and PTI officials tell Reuters that they are prepared to bring further objections to the bill, which broadly expands police and security services’ powers of detention and engagement. The bill must still pass the senate, where the PML-N lacks an outright majority and will face opposition from the PPP.


Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Musharraf Case: Pakistan’s Corps Commanders are holding their monthly meeting on Wednesday, following public remarks by Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif expressing frustration with “undue criticism of the institution in recent day”, which analysts interpret as a signal to the government about military unhappiness with the ongoing treason trial against former Pres. Musharraf. The Express Tribune reports that Musharraf will be shifted to a naval hospital in Karachi, although this has not been publicly confirmed. [ET]


Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Bond Issue: Following a positive response during meetings with international investors over the past week, Pakistan upped its bond issue $2 billion, with half offering a 7.25% yield after five years and half offering 8.25% after ten years. It is Pakistan’s first international bond issue since 2007. [WSJ] [Reuters]
  • China Investment: Prime Minister Sharif will travel to Beijing from April 9 through 11th to take part in the Boao Forum, where he will hold additional talks on the financing of infrastructure projects proposed as part of the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor.


Pakistan — Remainders

  • Clashes Between Rival TTP Groups in South Waziristan Kills Ten [Dawn]
  • Confusion Prevails as Khyber Paktunkhwa Cabinet Reshuffle Not Notified [Dawn]
  • Islamabad High Court Rules Accountant General’s Suspension Was Illegal [Dawn]
  • Supreme Court Issues Detailed Verdict on Local Elections [Dawn] [ET]
  • Nawabshah Railway Bombed [ET]
  • Three Small Bombs Hit Hyderabad [Dawn]
  • Zardari Rebuffs Pressure for Shakeup of Azad Kashmir Party Leadership [The Nation]
  • IMF Forecasts Slowing Growth [Dawn] [ET]


Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Results: The campaigns of both Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani tell the NYT that they believe they have won the election outright by securing more than 50% of the vote; in WSJ interviews, both candidates stopped short of claiming victory but said they were confident of strong performances. Zalmay Rassoul, the third major contender, appears to be running far behind both, and has not commented publicly since after the polls, when he said he would abide by the results and expected to win in a run-off. The Independent Election Commission warned the candidates and media not to make their own predictions about election results while the vote count was ongoing. [Reuters] [Reuters] [TOLO] [TOLO] [TOLO] [BBC]


Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Two Killed in Ghazni Bombing [TOLO]
  • Commentary: An Emerging Mixed Picture – “Alongside a robust genuine and determined vote, there are indications of significant irregularities: old patterns of intimidation, ballot-stuffing, and ‘ghost polling stations’ in remote and insecure areas, and possible new patterns of ‘early’ and ‘late voting’ in areas where people came out to vote.” [Martine van Bijlert, AAN]
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